A short note about Windstream, the ISP I use.

At one point in time, the service where I am was, if not awe inspiring, at least acceptable for everything I do. While the network is my connection to the world (I haven't connected anything but the XBox to the TV), I don't do too much out of the ordinary off of the connection here; web browsing, netflix, online gaming, and the occasional remote session for work when one of my coworkers or customers had something blow up after hours. I'd have to reboot the modem once a week or so, which, while annoying, I could easily chalk up to the house wiring or something weird on the circuit. I do live a few miles from the nearest town, and over 30 miles from anything remotely classified a city. The bandwidth wasn't always what I was promised, but it was often enough and reliable enough that I didn't worry about it. I was a happy customer.

The past roughly two months have not been that way. I get frequent dropouts, massive lag spikes, and it doesn't matter where I measure my bandwidth from, if I get 1Mbps, it's a GOOD measurement. I wouldn't complain about the bandwidth if I'm paying for wasn't 6 times that, but the lag and dropouts are very problematic for gaming, streaming video, and the occasional work I have to do.

Online chat support hasn't been the greatest either. I get the feeling that it's run by people with a script, their wits, and not much other support.

Of the 3 (maybe more... it's been quite a while) support agents I've chatted online with, none of them have asked me to use the Windstream internal speed test at http://speedtest.windstream.net, or asked me for test results from said site. In fact, I've been referred to http://speedtest.net and http://speakeasy.net/speedtest.

One tech (Kenyatta N.) did escalate my request to "an engineer", who apparently did call as promised on 2012-08-27 during the day, and was short to the Mrs. while informing her "it's fixed". Which it really wasn't. The former I can almost forgive, because often engineers are busy. I don't appreciate it at all, but I can understand. The latter is a real problem.

One tech requested remote access to my machine via http://join.me, which I found to be very disconcerting. He poked around a bit like he might have been looking for something specific, but it could just as easily be construed as being nosy on the machine. I allowed it because I keep no sensitive information on the machine, but really? You have to remote in? You can't just look at the stats that the connection has from both the modem (which I know you have some access to) or the DSLAM (which I hope you have some access to) and see "oh hey, there may be some issues here". The speed test from Windstream's network even appears to have numbers for each test run from there that I could give you so you can (or at least should be able to) pull results from that site.

If you're going to allow remote connections from tech support, at least pay for a branded service. Join.me (no offense intended to the people who operate that service) just comes off as a skeezy, "I'm doing this from my bedroom" fly by night operation. I know Windstream isn't the biggest player in the space, but it's certainly more than a single room office in a warehouse.

The last agent (Keith W., who also happened to be the one who asked to remote connect to me) was fairly condescending, and after nearly 90 minutes of "work", said "Let me cycle your connection", which then disconnected me from him, with no hope of actually talking to him again. Not fixing the issue.

I'm not the only one out here who has this problem. There is at least one more who also works in tech, lives in the area, and would like to work from home, but can't because the connectivity out here is so lousy. I've quit bringing my laptop home because it's worthless to even try and get anything done: 90% of my work is on the network.

I'm not asking for the moon, and I certainly don't think I'm whingeing. I'm asking for a fix. Hell, I'd consider forgoing compensation if it can be made right permanently. I'd consider a "business class" connection as well, but currently I'm not convinced that it would change anything except to make my bill larger. I am told by support that all support requests are logged. If that's the case, and you're from Windstream, please look up incident number 13173128 and you should have enough information to find the rest. I assume the tech was honest when I asked them for that information, and it actually exists. The call that landed me that number was made on 2012-08-29, around 2000 Eastern time. The tech (whose name I didn't document, bad customer) had excellent soft skills, but I'm unconvinced that he has the tools to actually fix any problem beyond "Lemme cycle the modem". Which I can do myself.

This could end up being an awesome customer service story. I'd love to write that half, if you'll let me.